Your Website’s Key to Maximum Impact
Whether you pay someone to design the layout and structure of your website, or do it yourself, there are certain key elements of your website you should make sure are included.
- You want to ensure maximum impact when attracting visitors and potential customers
- You want to quickly and effectively make your unique selling proposition to your target market
- You need to make it super-easy and attractive for them to buy from you, or sign up with their email address, or to contact you.
19 Steps to Setting Up Your Website – the Right Way
- Logo and Tagline – make sure your logo and tagline are at the top of your site. Logos are generally positioned at the top left of a site and should clearly convey your brand with the graphics and colours used. Your logo should be ‘clickable’, and always take you back to the home page. Your tagline should sum up the benefits you offer to customers and make it crystal clear what you’re all about. If people are not sure what you’re offering or who you’re targeting with your logo and tagline, you need to revisit these – pronto! Ask yourself (or even better, ask someone else) if it’s clear what you’re offering; why it will improve the life of your target audience, and how they can get access to all the good things you have available. If this is not immediately clear when someone visits your website, they will get confused and leave.
- Search Box – have a search box at or near the top of your site, so that visitors can easily type in a search query and quickly, easily find the information – or product – they’re looking for.
- Navigation Bar – make sure you have clear, simple, uncluttered navigation. Too many pages, or lots of drop-down menus can be confusing. Around 7 navigation text links are about the recommended limit for most websites. If you have lots of extra pages to list such as privacy statements or terms and conditions (see below), consider placing these in a footer, or secondary menu. Horizontal navigation is best.
- Clean layout – Make sure your layout is as clean and uncluttered as you can make it. Whether you use the standard 2-column layout with main content on the left and sidebar on the right, or some other variation, do not crowd out the white space on the page. Email sign-up forms (see below) or surveys, search boxes or blog post categories may be fine, even essential, but extra widgets or features such as social media updates and calendars are not necessary. If in doubt, leave it out!
- Fresh content – You should include fresh content on your home page, such as your latest blog post, product review, podcast episode, or product release. Search engines like Google reward the publishing of regular, quality content relevant to the interests of the website visitors. Devise a content marketing plan and aim to publish this content at least once a week.
- Prominent Contact Details – make sure your contact details, such as email address, phone number, physical address (if relevant) and RSS icon (Really Simple Syndication – for automatic feeds of your website content) are clearly displayed at the top of your website. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to ask a question of a business or organisation when their contact details are buried deep within their website, if at all. Make sure you have an extra ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Contact’ page with a simple contact form that enables visitors to quickly send you a message and has your general contact details restated. Leaving out key, well-displayed contact details can cause visitors to mistrust your website and quickly move on.
- About page – you need to have a prominent ‘About’ or ‘About Us’ page. This should communicate who you or your organisation are, what are your values, and how and why you are so qualified to provide benefits to your customers that they’re looking for. Website visitors expect to be able to get to know you, and often will not stick around, let alone buy or sign up for anything from a faceless entity without personality or relevance to them.
- Social Media Connections – Social media share buttons are vital to your website’s growth. These let your visitors promote your products and content on many social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with one click. They also encourage more shares because they’re powerful social proof that other readers also found your products, services or updates share-worthy. Add floating share buttons to ones at the top and bottom of your posts. The buttons will move down the page as your readers scroll and be right there as soon as they decide they want to go onto Facebook or Twitter to tell the world about your epic content.
- Quick Loading Time – Google penalises sites that take more than 1.5 seconds to load. High-resolution photos and images might look great, but they can make your site slow to appear, especially if your visitors have older devices or browsers. If your page won’t show on their device within a few seconds, most web surfers will click away and never return. The bottom line is that if your site doesn’t load quickly, then say ‘goodbye’ to a top search ranking.
- Remove, minimise or don’t use high-resolution images and slideshows.
- Make sure all photos or graphics are low-resolution, compressed product images that still look sharp and clear on a web page without slowing down your website, and don’t use more than 4 or 5 per blog post or feature article.
- Don’t use images merely to make your site look ‘pretty’.
- Images should help tell a story about the positive outcome your visitors or customers are looking for.
- Mobile-Friendly Site – Now there are more people using the Internet via a mobile device than desktop or laptop computers. There was a time when having a ‘mobile-friendly’ site was a nice add-on. Today, it’s a must-have feature of your website. If you can’t reach your customers through mobile search or display, or you’re not providing a satisfactory mobile experience you will lose out to your competitors who are. You need to ensure your website is ‘responsive’; meaning that it should look good and be easy to browse on both a desktop computer or mobile device.
- Testimonials and Reviews – Testimonials or product reviews from your customers provide powerful ‘social proof’ of the benefits of your business or organisation. Testimonials are important to establishing you and your brand as experts in your market and encouraging prospective customers to sign-up or buy from you. Include testimonials prominently in your website design.
- Recommended Resources Page – A ‘Resources’ page on your website can very helpful to your audience if you make quality recommendations to help them with additional information, products or tools. As a bonus; if you are or become an affiliate with any of these vendors or products you can make some commission if a visitor buys from your affiliate links (always make your affiliate relationships clear to visitors – if you’re proud to use the product or service, you should be proud to promote it).
- Footer – Ensure your footer contains important information, such as your copyright notice, and possibly links to your privacy statement, terms of service and any disclaimers you wish to post. Some people also include contact information in the footer as well.
- Consistent Colour Scheme – Use a colour scheme that suits your brand and keep it consistent throughout your website. Who are your target audience, and what are you selling? What is their gender, age, education level, and likely interest in coming to your site? This information should influence your choice of colours. Colour has a significant effect on our attitudes and emotions. “Color,” writes online marketing guru Neil Patel, is “85% of the reason you purchased a specific product.” Selling to women? Then avoid using brown, grey or orange (try blue, purple and green instead). Men don’t like orange, brown, or purple, for example, but they do like blue, green and black. Blue conveys peace, trust, order and loyalty (ever wondered why so many big websites use blue…Facebook…Twitter…PayPal…?). Green is good for environmental or outdoor products, yellow can mean warning or happiness; black conveys luxury and value – and don’t forget, plenty of WHITE space! Bottom line is, use colours wisely, and do some research into complimentary online colour schemes if you’re not sure.
- FAQ Page – This page is perfect for answering commons questions about your business and products. Questions that may be included are sizes, shipping, returns, etc – whatever is most relevant to your business and customers. This will help reduce customer inquiries and reassure them that you are responsive to their questions and concerns.
- Security Features – A secure online shopping experience is essential for customers buying online – especially if your brand is not that well-known and already trusted. You should purchase or sign up with a hosting provider that enables you to have an SSL certificate. (for starter or WordPress hosting I use, recommend and am an affiliate for Bluehost – which provides you with a free SSL certificate when you sign up). This establishes secure connectivity between a consumer and the website. Your domain name should begin with HTTPS with a green lock in the address bar. Asking customers to sign in with their name and password also helps to ensure full privacy when shopping with you online.
- Home Page – Your main or ‘Home’ page is where you grab the attention of your target audience. Depending on whether you’re selling from your website, you can have a ‘shop’ or ‘shop now’ button, feature new products, blog posts or promotions, and promote your unique selling proposition. An attractive main image showcasing your product being used/consumed/worn by your ideal customer is a good starting point. This is also a good place to highlight specials; product recommendations; testimonials; featured products; discounts, and freebies – including any extra bonuses like give-aways, competitions and free shipping (for e-commerce sites).
If you’re going to the trouble, time and expense of promoting your products or services online, you want to do it as well as you can. If you follow at least most of the tips in this guide you will be ahead of most online businesses and will set yourself up for the best chance of success.
As I indicated, you can do this yourself, if you have a good knowledge of web design and if you use a reliable content management system like WordPress. This will, however, most likely take a considerable amount of time, effort and trial and error.
On the other hand, if you would rather have someone else build, or update your website for you, please contact me. Even if you want to simply talk to someone about your ideas, aims and objectives for your website, I am happy to chat with you. I am genuinely interested in helping other people realise their online projects – so try me!
If you have any thoughts, comments or questions about this guide, I’d love to hear from you.
To your online success,